Title: God’s Entourage
This chapter introduces the concept of the divine council.
Bibliography included in the book
E. Theodore Mullen, Jr., “Divine Assembly,” The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary, vol. 2 (New York: Doubleday, 1992), 215–216
S. B. Parker, “Sons of (The) God(S),” Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible (Leiden; Boston; Köln; Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge: Brill; Eerdmans, 1999)
Michael S. Heiser, “Divine Council,” The Lexham Bible Dictionary (ed. John D. Barry and Lazarus Wentz; Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012)
Michael S. Heiser, “Divine Council,” in the Dictionary of the Old Testament: Wisdom, Poetry, and Writings (Downers Grove, Ill.: Intervarsity Press, 2008
E. Theodore Mullen, The Divine Council in Canaanite and Early Hebrew Literature (Harvard Semitic Monographs 24; Chico, CA: Scholars Press, 1980)
Lowell K. Handy, Among the Host of Heaven: The Syro-Palestinian Pantheon as Bureaucracy (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1994)
Matitiahu Tsevat, “God and the Gods in Assembly,” Hebrew Union College Annual 40–41 (1969–1970): 123-137
Mark S. Smith, “Astral Religion and the Representation of Divinity: The Cases of Ugarit and Judah,” Prayer, Magic, and the Stars in the Ancient and Late Antique World (ed. Scott Noegel, Joel Walker, Brannon Wheeler; University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2003), 187-206
Alan Scott, Origen and the Life of the Stars: The History of An Idea (Oxford Early Christian Studies; Oxford University Press, 1994
Many scholars think that Yahweh and El are separate deities in Psalm 82 because they presume references to a council and plural elohim mean polytheism. I do not. I’ve published a number of scholarly articles disputing this notion.
Michael S. Heiser, “Monotheism and the Language of Divine Plurality in the Hebrew Bible and the Dead Sea Scrolls,” Tyndale Bulletin 65:1 (2014): 85-100
Michael S. Heiser, “Divine Council,” in the Dictionary of the Old Testament: Prophets (Intervarsity Press, 2012)
Michael S. Heiser, “Does Divine Plurality in the Hebrew Bible Demonstrate an Evolution from Polytheism to Monotheism in Israelite Religion?” Journal for the Evangelical Study of the Old Testament 1:1 (2012): 1-24
Michael S. Heiser, “Should אלהים (ʾelōhîm) with Plural Predication be Translated “Gods”? Bible Translator 61:3 (July 2010): 123-136
Michael S. Heiser, “Does Deuteronomy 32:17 Assume or Deny the Reality of Other Gods?” Bible Translator 59:3 (July 2008): 137-145
Michael S. Heiser, “Monotheism, Polytheism, Monolatry, or Henotheism? Toward an Assessment of Divine Plurality in the Hebrew Bible” Bulletin of Biblical Research 18:1 (2008): 1-30
Michael S. Heiser, “You’ve Seen One Elohim, You’ve Seen Them All? A Critique of Mormonism’s Use of Psalm 82” Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies Review 19:1 (2007): 221-266
- This is my article, published in a Mormon journal, critiquing Mormonism’s understanding of Psalm 82 and the divine council. My views are antithetical to Mormon theology, as this article shows. FARMS had a Mormon scholar, David Bokovoy, respond to my article. I then was allowed to respond to David (see the next entry below).
Michael S. Heiser, “Israel’s Divine Council, Mormonism, and Evangelicalism: Clarifying the Issues and Directions for Future Study (Response to David Bokovy’s ‘Ye Really ARE Gods: A Response To Michael Heiser Concerning the LDS Use of Psalm 82 and the Gospel of John’,” Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies Review 19:1 (2007): 315-323
Michael S. Heiser, “Are Yahweh and El Distinct Deities in Deut. 32:8-9 and Psalm 82?” HIPHIL 3 (2006); online journal
Michael S. Heiser, “The Divine Council in Late Canonical and Non-Canonical Second Temple Jewish Literature,” PhD diss., UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN-MADISON, 2004
Ellen White, Yahweh’s Council: Its Structure and Membership (FZAT 65; 2 Reihe; Tübingen: Mohr-Siebeck, 2014)
- Note the date—this is not Ellen G. White of Seventh Day Adventism!
- See my review of White’s book (starts on p. 39 of the PDF file at this link)
Patrick D. Miller, “Cosmology and World Order in the Old Testament The Divine Council as Cosmic-Political Symbol,” Horizons in Biblical Theology 9, no. 2 (1987): 53-78.
David Marron Fleming, “The Divine Council as Type Scene in the Hebrew Bible (Bible).” PhD diss., Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1989
Min Suc, Kee, “The heavenly council and its type-scene,” Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 31, no. 3 (2007): 259-273
James Stokes Ackerman, “An exegetical study of Psalm 82: a thesis.” PhD diss., Harvard University, 1966
R. B. Salters, “Psalm 82, 1 and the Septuagint,” Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 103, no. 2 (1991): 225-239
Lowell K. Handy, “Sounds, Words and Meanings in Psalm 82,” Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 47 (1990): 51-66
Willem S. Prinsloo, “Psalm 82: once again, gods or men?” Biblica (1995): 219-228
Daniel F. Porter, “God Among the Gods: An Analysis of the Function of Yahweh in the Divine Council of Deuteronomy 32 and Psalm 82,” Masters Thesis; Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary and Graduate School (2010)
Mark S. Smith, “When the Heavens Darkened: Yahweh, El, and the Divine Astral Family in Iron Age II Judah’,” Symbiosis, Symbolism, and the Power of the Past: Canaan, Ancient Israel, and Their Neighbors from the Late Bronze Age Through Roman Palaestina (2003): 265.
Ida Zatelli, “Astrology and the Worship of the Stars in the Bible,” Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 103, no. 1 (1991): 86-99.
S. B. Parker, “Sons of (The) God(S),” Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible (ed. Karel van der Toorn, Bob Becking, and Pieter W. van der Horst; Leiden; Boston; Köln; Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge: Brill; Eerdmans, 1999)
G. Cooke, “The Sons of (the) God(s), Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 76 (1964) 22–47
F. Lelli, “Stars,” Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible (ed. Karel van der Toorn, Bob Becking, and Pieter W. van der Horst; Leiden; Boston; Köln; Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge: Brill; Eerdmans, 1999)
There are a number of divine council issues covered in the notes to chapter four. With respect to this third chapter, however, I want to draw the attention of readers to the modern critical notion that Psalm 82 conveys that Yahweh and El are separate deities.
I’ve address this issue at length elsewhere in publications listed above. For example:
- Michael S. Heiser, “Are Yahweh and El Distinct Deities in Deut. 32:8-9 and Psalm 82?” HIPHIL 3 (2006)
- Michael S. Heiser, “Does Divine Plurality in the Hebrew Bible Demonstrate an Evolution from Polytheism to Monotheism in Israelite Religion?” Journal for the Evangelical Study of the Old Testament 1:1 (2012): 1-24
Specifically, the latter article (pp. 18-20) rebuts a recent articulation of the critical perspective about Psalm 82 that has El and Yahweh as separate deities (David Frankel, “El as the Speaking Voice in Psalm 82:6-8,” Journal of Hebrew Scriptures 16 (2010); located online here.
Lastly, A number of studies of the divine council will contend (rather mildly) for a four-tiered council (see Mark S. Smith, The Origins of BIblical Monotheism: Israel’s Polytheistic Background and the Ugaritic Texts [Oxford, 2001], 45-47). Other than the highest tier of authority (El and Athirat at Ugarit; Yahweh and the co-regent Yahweh for biblical Israel), the tier for the “sons of El” (Ugarit) and the “sons of God” (Israel), and the tier for messenger deities (mlʾkm; “angels”; Ugarit and Israel), the alleged fourth tier includes “craftsmen deities.”
Evidence for this tier at Ugarit is weak. Smith admits this level “is poorly represented in the Ugaritic texts” (Origins, 46). It is witnessed by (apparently) only one deity (Kothar wa-Hasis). Smith opines that this deity doesn’t have second-tier status since he was an outsider—a foreigner—whose home was in Egypt and Crete. However, if the El-Dagan correspondence reflects a merger between Canaanite and Amorite religion, the inclusion of an outside deity is not sufficient for eliminating a deity from the second tier, as Baal is the “son of Dagan” and is certainly second tier. Baal also calls El his father (KTU2 1.17 i 23) and is described as the son of El (KTU2 1.17 vi 29). Scholars have attempted resolutions of El and Dagan as the same deity to resolve the discrepancy (Wyatt: 375-379; Schloen, 2001: 354), but there is no consensus. Given the total absence of a “craftsman” tier in the Hebrew Bible, when its general structure is otherwise so similar to that of Ugarit, there seems little reason to argue for this structural element of the council.